CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, January 14, 2005

New Article Spotlight: Capital Punishment and Jewish Law

Rosenbergs Irene Merker Rosenberg and Yale L. Rosenberg of Houston have posted Of God's Mercy and the Four Biblical Methods of Capital Punishment:  Stoning, Burning, Beheading and Strangulation on SSRN.  The article was recently published in the Tulane Law Review.  The abstract states:

In this article Professors Irene and Yale Rosenberg analyze capital punishment under Jewish Law, focusing on the four biblical death penalties: stoning, burning, beheading, and strangulation. To modern sensibilities these methods of execution may appear barbaric, especially as compared to the modern death by lethal injection. As with most of Jewish Law, however, one cannot read the Bible without reference to the Talmud. The Talmud makes it clear that because of various evidentiary, procedural and substantive barriers to conviction it is almost impossible to impose the death penalty.

The Talmudic discussions of the death penalties reveal that the Sages stressed the need for a favorable death, one that would not unnecessarily prolong the death agony nor subject those undergoing execution to indignity. Finally, the authors compare the Jewish Law of capital punishment with that of the United States. They conclude that although Jewish Law seems harsher, in fact it prevents innocent people from being executed and emphasizes the sanctity of life.

To obtain a copy of the paper, click here. [Mark Godsey]

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